Author on the Couch:
An Intimate Look Inside the Minds of our Favorite Authors
This week I conduct a session with
Today her historical romance STIRRING UP THE VISCOUNT is on sale for $.99!
I’m giving away a $5.00 Amazon Gift Card to one lucky person!
At the end of the post I’ll tell you how to be eligible for the gift card!
Me: So Marin tell me about an experience that had a profound impact on your life.
Marin: Oh, there have been a ton—meeting my husband, having my son, going to college, law school. It’s unnerving to reflect on the decisions you’ve made, which seemed minor at the time but have had massive changes on the direction your life took.
But that’s not where you’re going with this question, I suspect. The experience I thought of first was spending a year in college in Durham, England. It was my first trip abroad, my first experience with another culture, my first time far from home. It was scary and fabulous, life-changing. And my first book would have been very different without it, assuming I wrote it at all. The book would never have been set in Durham had I never lived there. Considering it was, at least in part, Durham that inspired me to write it, I can’t help but wonder if it would have been written without my experiences there.
Me: I’ve never been to England. Tell me a bit about how life in England is different than the United States.
Marin: I lived there a very long time ago, but one of the differences that has stuck with me was specific to my life at Oberlin College vs. my life in Durham. At Oberlin, students did enjoy themselves, but there was always a sense that they shouldn’t be, that they were slacking instead of working. In Durham students worked very hard, but they took time to relax and enjoy themselves, without guilt. It seemed a healthier balance.
Me: What did you love about England?
Marin: I loved so many things about England! So much of England—the UK in general—is spectacularly beautiful. The history is something I also loved, interspersed with the modern. The US, of course, is a much younger country, and although we have a rich history too, England’s is so much longer. Durham Castle and Cathedral, for example, were built almost 1,000 years ago. It’s fascinating to walk through them and just imagine the generations of people who walked along the same path.
Me: It sounds amazing! Old places just feel different then modern places.
Marin: I loved the Cadbury’s chocolate, tea with milk—it is nearly impossible to recreate the exact taste of it in the US, even with English tea—and all the wonderful people I met, some of whom I still keep in touch with today.
Me: So you’ve told me what you liked about England, now it’s time to fess up. What didn’t you like?
Marin: The food was not spectacular, I have to admit. And the toilet paper was awful—much more akin to waxed paper than anything else. Some of my American classmates had their parents ship them Charmin from home—one of them gave me a roll for my birthday, and I used it so sparingly it lasted a ridiculously long time.
Me: Waxed paper! Holy Yikes! That sound awful! Other than toilet paper what else did you miss about the United States or your hometown?
Marin: I missed my family and friends, although several of my friends from Oberlin were in the UK at the same time, so I had some great adventures visiting them.
Me: Let’s switch gears a bit and talk about writing. What personality trait of yours helps you most an author?
Marin: I am a tenacious researcher, which is a huge help for a historical romance writer. If I want to find out how much it cost to mail a letter in 1866, I’m going to find the answer—I can’t really stop until I do.
Me: Sometime research is the fun part of writing! What personality trait of yours hinders you most an author?
Marin: I’m lazy. Seriously lazy. If there’s a choice between going to bed or staying up late to write, I usually pick bed.
Me: What was your high point as a writer—a time when you were happiest, on cloud nine, flying high? What happened?
Marin: Probably when I won the Lone Star Contest in 2014. It was my first real validation that I truly did not stink as a writer. I was ecstatic.
Me: Congratulations! Winning a contest can really boost the writer ego, but there’s always the flip side…What was your low point as a writer—a time when questioned your path as a writer, a time when you felt really crappy about your writing?
Marin: I am not one of those fortunate people who always knew that they wanted to write. I’m pretty new to writing—I’ve only been writing for a decade or so, and only half of that time seriously—and I’ve been extremely fortunate not to suffer more rejection than I have. Although I’ve had rejections, and had a few contest critiques that made wonder if they actually read my entry, I have a feeling that my low point as a writer hasn’t actually happened yet. I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop!
Me: Contests can either be rewarding or soul shredding. It’s the rewards that keep people entering them. How many books have you written?
Marin: I have completed three novels. The first one is under the bed, the second one was released in January, and the third one has been contracted and is in the editing stage. That first book probably took five years to write—it was how I learned to write. The second one took a few months to write and almost two years to rewrite and edit, and the third only took a year. I have two more books about halfway complete. For me the most painful part is the middle. The beginning is so much fun and it is full of possibility. The end feels SO good to write. But the middle is really hard for me, and the place that I am most likely to veer off course.
Me: What causes stress in your writing life? Why?
Marin: My biggest stress in my writing life is usually not writing or editing when I know I ought to be. I am pretty low on will-power, and sometimes it amazes me that I ever finish anything at all. Eventually, though, the muse comes through for me and I get it all done.
Me: Sounds like you have more will-power than you are giving yourself credit for! Three books written and two more half written–that’s quite an accomplishment. Speaking of writing–every writer has their pet peeves. That thing that hits you like fingernails-on-a-chalkboard every time you see it. What is yours?
Marin: Head-hopping. I actually didn’t know what it was until I entered a contest with my first manuscript and was told I was guilty of it. I spent a long time curing myself of the habit, and now whenever I see it, it drives me nuts. I was recently reading a book by a famous, bestselling author who jumped into several different heads in every scene. It was so dizzying I had to stop reading.
Me: The cover for STIRRING UP THE VISCOUNT is beautiful. Can you tell me a bit about the book?
Seeking to escape an abusive husband, Theodora Ravensdale answers an ad in The Times for a job as cook in a country home. A fortuitous house fireenables her to fake her own death and flee to northern England and live under an assumed name. But Theodora’s refuge is not all she would wish, when she stirs emotions in the heir to the estate, Jonathan Tenwick, and in herself.
Meanwhile, as the connection between Theodora and Jonathan grows, her husband learns she did not perish in the fire, and searches for her. Fearing he is close to finding her, Theodora must flee again to protect the family and the viscount for whom she cares deeply. In the final confrontation with her husband, Theodora learns she is stronger than she ever knew, and love is worth fighting for.
Me: Share with me a favorite passage.
Marin: It was really hard to pick just one part, but I am partial to this exchange between Jonathan, his mother, Lady Longley, and his sister, Julia, in their carriage on the way home from dinner. I love this part because it shows several things: the affection the family has for each other, Jonathan’s protective instincts, Julia’s practical side, and the whimsical yet pragmatic nature of their mother. And it always makes me laugh. I figure if I can make myself laugh I must be doing something right.
His mother sat up straight and regarded him with The Look, which he somehow had no trouble seeing even in the dark. It was something he could feel. “I do not care how old or wise you may have become at university, Jonathan, I am still your mother, and I do not care to be addressed in such a manner.”
Jonathan felt a pang of guilt, but only a small one. Although she possessed a rather whimsical temperament which was an undeniable part of her charm, his mother was normally a pragmatic person. Although she trusted their housekeeper, she oversaw every aspect of the household with a careful eye. The kitchen was a particular interest of hers. Nevertheless, he felt compelled to point out that hiring a cook sight unseen, with references from someone they had never heard of, was perhaps a trifle foolish. He would pay dearly if he did not apologize.
“I am sorry, Mother, I am,” he said in a slightly pleading tone. “That was not very nice. But really, was it wise, do you think?”
“Jonathan, stop. Why is this so troubling to you?”
Jonathan thought for a moment and realized he wasn’t quite sure. It wasn’t, he supposed, unheard of to hire household staff without a personal meeting. “I don’t know.” He shrugged, feeling oddly helpless.
“I appreciate your concern, truly I do.” His mother sighed and patted his hand as if he were a small boy who had just done something stupid, but sweet. “No, we don’t know exactly where Mrs. Milsom comes from, or who she is, but frankly, we are a bit desperate. Sometimes we must trust our instincts. Mine, as you know, are seldom wrong.”
Jonathan heard a snort from the seat opposite, where his younger sister sat hidden in shadow.
“Julia, dear, are you coming down with another cold?” his mother asked in a syrupy tone.
“Of course not, Mother,” Julia said. “I am simply expressing my opinion as to your recent instincts regarding cooks.”
Jonathan was unable to hold back a snort himself, earning what he was sure was another Look, given the speed he sensed his mother’s head swiveled in his direction.
She sniffed. “I am sure I don’t know what you mean, Julia, and I will remind you what I just told your brother.”
“Mother, I adore you,” Julia said patiently, “but even you must admit you have had terrible luck with cooks of late. First there was Mrs. James, who tippled so much sherry that the food was either too cold, burnt, or so salty it was inedible, assuming it made it to the table at all. Then there was Mrs. Edgerton, who had learned to cook from her grandmother in Scotland and didn’t seem to be able to make anything but haggis.”
“Her haggis was very good, though!” Lady Longley interrupted.
Jonathan felt a guffaw escape his lips, and his mother swatted him with her reticule.
“Then,” Julia continued dramatically in a very low voice, “there was Mrs. Brown.”
“Oh, no, let us not speak of Mrs. Brown!” His mother laughed. “Fine, Julia, your point is well taken. But this cook, I feel, will be different. You’ll see.”
*You can purchase STIRRING UP THE VISCOUNT for only $.99 today*
You can find Marin at:
on her group blog at throughheartshapedglasses.com
on Twitter @MarinMcGinnis
or Facebook at facebook.com/MarinMcG.
$5.00 Amazon Gift Card!
To be eligible just leave a comment.
On Saturday May 16th, I’ll draw a random name from among those who comment!
Can you relate to Marin’s love of research?
Have you been to England?
What personality traits help/hinder you as a writer?
What have been your highs/lows?